I want to congratulate our friends at the State of Ohio Office of Collective Bargaining and the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association. This week, they announced the extension of their current negotiated contract for another three years.
Not only was this a surprising development, but it is unprecedented. The history of bargaining would have indicated a long and difficult bargaining probably resulting in impasse.
Given the political climate in the state it would have been easy for both sides to play hardball. It would have been easy for the state to try to win some of the pieces lost in the Issue 2 referendum. It would have been easy for the union to feel empowered by the vote results and try to flex its muscle.
Like most easy answers, these approaches would have been wrong. The courage shown by both parties in reaching this agreement within a week is forward looking and good for both.
We realize the agreement may be a tough sell to some members. A total of 6 years without an increase in base salaries will be a sacrifice, but is indicative of the kind of joint sacrifices the union and state have made in the last contracts. In particular, the union has accepted its responsibility in dealing with the budget crisis. It did not require restricting collective bargaining rights to bring about this cooperative approach.
We thank OCB and OCSEA for this demonstration of labor-management cooperation. Acting in a cooperative manner is nothing new for the union and the state. There are many examples of how they have worked together to save money, improve efficiency, and increase customer service.
We have enjoyed working with both sides in these cooperative efforts, and we look forward continuing to partner with them in the future.